Giving Back: The Growing Importance of Corporate Community Engagement

Giving Back: The Growing Importance of Corporate Community Engagement

Join the conversation with Millcraft President and CEO Travis Mlakar, and discover how Millcraft’s Buy & Give program has transformed copy paper from ordinary into extraordinary.

Once a mere notion, a hope, Millcraft’s Buy & Give copy paper program today has generated more than $650,000 for local charities within Midwest communities that Millcraft serves, impacting thousands of people and families — and the initiative has come to further define and strengthen the culture within Millcraft itself. 

If you’re looking to incentivize your employees and energize your team, join in on this conversation. If you’re interested in building company culture and promoting positive growth, pull up a chair. Enjoy this Q+A Session with Travis Mlaker, President and CEO of Millcraft, as he brings personal and professional experience to the conversation, “Giving Back: The Growing Importance of Corporate Community Engagement.” 


Millcraft’s Buy & Give paper program has grown and evolved over the years. Will you take us back to 2014 and the origin of the Buy & Give program that we know today?

Sure. We actually have to go back a little bit before that. In 2013, Millcraft went through an acquisition where we acquired one of our largest competitors and it was a wonderful but chaotic time frame. We essentially doubled the size of the company overnight. And in the middle of that, literally in the middle, my son needed open heart surgery. 

As a father, one of the hardest things I think you ever do, you have this role and responsibility to take care of your family. But, I had to hand my child over to somebody else and say, ‘I can't fix this. I need you to help.’ And they did. I wanted to find a way of being able to give back to them, or to somebody else that they were helping. That’s really where it came from, it was my cry to the organization to ask them to help those who had helped me … to help others.

Millcraft offers hundreds of thousands of SKUs, yet Buy & Give includes less than 10. Everyday paper, not flashy or fancy, why copy paper?

We picked copy paper for a reason, because it's not what we do – it's why we do it. We sell a commodity product, but we do it in an uncommon way. We turned it into a story and it is a story about something larger. It’s a story, I hope, about who we are as individuals and who we are collectively at Millcraft. 

And how do we tell the story of who we are as people and why we do what we do? If we work together, we can make the world that much of a better place. That's really, to me, what Buy & Give is about and why we chose a product that for many people is a pure commodity.

With what you’ve experienced through the Buy & Give program and its positive impact throughout Millcraft, what would you add to the conversation about corporate community engagement and its importance? 

There are a couple of facets of it. First off, I think for every organization in one way, shape, or form you're selling yourself. Yes, you sell yourself to customers, but more importantly, I think you're selling yourself to future associates and team members. Why are they going to choose your organization versus somebody else's? You've got to define what it is that somebody's getting when they join your organization. What's that culture look like? What's it feel like? 

What you do in terms of integrating your organization in the community, it's important to define who you are and what your values are because those are the things that future associates, future team members, future customers, future supply partners, at some level, are all going to sign up for. What you do matters and also defines who you are.

Millcraft division managers, sales staff, delivery truck drivers, every division company wide — everyone is in. What is your secret? How have you been able to positively affect the culture of Millcraft through Buy & Give?

I think it's pretty simple. You treat other people the way that you would want to be treated. And as I said, as the 4th generation of my family to be involved in the business, it's not my business. I need to take care of the people that are here every day and I think that when you treat others that way, that's a start, when you put others before yourself. I'd like to believe that if there is a leadership story, it's that you lead by example. 

I believe there's only one thing more transparent than glass, and that's BS. So doing what you say you're doing, that's important because if you do it for the wrong reasons or you say you're doing something and you really aren’t, everybody can see through it. I think we have a wonderful opportunity and a wonderful team. As Popeye used to say, ‘I am who I am and that's all that I am.’ Millcraft, as an organization, we are who we are and we're incredibly lucky because of that.


I understand there’s a little friendly competition amongst Millcraft teams/divisions, and that one of the smallest divisions within the company,  Millcraft Dayton, has raised the most charitable donations of any Millcraft division for five consecutive years. What is it about Buy & Give that you believe inspires and incentivises your employees?

What I've seen is the people in Dayton, they’re passionate about Hospice of Dayton. Not on the program per se or the product, they bought in on the Hospice – what it was that they provided, the impact that it has on the families that go through hospice, and how it impacts people's lives. Many of our folks in Dayton had personally experienced that, and so the opportunity for them to give back was so motivating. 

That's what got them so excited and made them the little engine that could. Because there's nothing more important to them than giving back to an organization that gave them so much. That’s the same experience that I felt with my son and what he went through.

Nearly $650,000 generated for eight charitable organizations, including more than $35,000 to Blessings in a Backpack - Louisville Chapter, providing nutrition to more than 250 children and families. What comes to mind when hearing these large numbers, knowing that millcraft is part of this great impact?

Our people are amazing. When you find something that people are passionate about and that they want to make a difference, truly make a positive difference in the world, you can see what they do and they get incredibly motivated. They stay committed to the program going forward, and that's been the fun part.

What happens next for Millcraft’s Buy & Give Program? 

Watch “Giving Back: The Growing Importance of Corporate Community Engagement” and cue in at the conclusion where Travis reveals future plans for Buy & Give including newly released growth on the horizon. 



Established in 2014, Millcraft’s Buy & Give program provides businesses the opportunity to support local charities through routine purchases of Millcraft’s Buy & Give brand office paper. For every carton of paper purchased, Millcraft donates $1 to the program – resulting to-date in nore than $650,000 generated within Midwest communities that Millcraft serves. If you’re considering programs like this or have questions, Just ask.

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